HardReviews 2
by Martin Popoff

Gorefest - La Muerte
(Nuclear Blast)

Dutch think man's extremists Gorefest have been coaxed back out of retirement partly by a reissue campaign, partly because of the damned and damnable creativity still flowing from this band's death-addled brains. La Muerte marks a grand return of the Mk. II lineup, and fans of the more mid-tempo "classic rock" (ha ha) Gorefest albums immediately pre-breakup will be pleased, the band turning in walloping crunch rockers that hearken back to Sunlight Studios' golden era. So yes, this sounds like boozy Entombed, with a few differences, the professional and proggy musical flourishes within the fills and traditions (the drumming is at Soilwork levels), the super-clear yet still mercilessly hard recording values, and most splendidly, the all-encompassing roar of authority welling up outta one Jan-Chris de Koeijer. Still, this is a heavy, purely metallic, dark Gorefest album. One won't be reminded of the abuse the band took for Soul Survivor and Chapter 13. La Muerte is instantly enjoyable as an Unleashed record, its melody of a grimly old school Swedish variety. And still, for those looking for the substantial, lyrics are a cut above, guitar solos emerge, and like I say, breaks are percussive, moderately complex... there's more than enough going on within this "circle the wagons" sort of record.
Rating 8

Locomotive Breath - Change Of Track
(Lion Music)

Locomotive Breath is the domain of axe legend Janne Starke, leaden lead-poisoner from Overdrive, whose Swords And Axes album is one of the great unsung metal platters of the '80s. Now onto record #3, the band has raised the stadium rock quotient, elegant and regal lead singer Mattias Osback more part of the writing process than on the comparatively oppressive Heavy Machinery, his debut with the band. Fact is, I'm playing this damn record all the time these days, Change Of Track being a near heavenly cross between Masterplan, Ark and Jorn Lande solo, touched by the golden wand of European hair metal from the '80s, grounded by the heaviest, player-concerned material from the L.A. scene '83 to '91. Heavy, punchy, bloody smart about all things metal, this record just moves from strength to strength, even if Osback says some very strange things (see opener H.M.M.). But the damn thing is just sparkly, hugely groovy, guitar-mad but rhythmic. And if listening to all those guys compete for the spotlight ain't enough fun for you, Osback jumps into the power-chorded playpen and actually wins the shoving match through blinding magnetism. Highlights are the crashing Speed Driven and the heavy yet touching What I've Become, which concerns doing well enough to please one's father. Knocked off a lone mark, due to a sameyness of structure (basically too much of a good thing). Weirdly (I always scrunch up when people say this), I might have liked this better as a ten or 11 track album, but I damn well love it anyway.
Rating 9

Hard Reviews Page 3